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Bankruptcy judge sides with MLB over McCourt

Jul 7, 2011, 12:45 PM EDT

Frank McCourt AP

There will be lots of rulings in the Dodgers’ bankruptcy case, but the first major one came today: the judge said that Major League Baseball does not have to turn over the metric-butt-ton of documents Frank McCourt sought in his motion the other day.

The document issue itself is kind of boring, but the overall rationale for denying McCourt’s request bodes well for those of us who would like to see this case move quickly and efficiently: From Bill Shaikin’s report in the L.A. Times:

“This is clearly, in my mind, not an appropriate occasion to turn this hearing into a trial on the commissioner”

Granted, this could bog down again later. But if the judge was not impressed with Frank McCourt’s claims of being singled out by Major League Baseball at this preliminary step of the case, he may very well not be too impressed with it later, either.  Which means that it’s more likely that this will be less a “trial on the commissioner” and more of a trial on McCourt’s management of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

And if that’s the case, things won’t go well for him.

  1. dohpey28 - Jul 7, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    Finally a court ruling that makes sense. Thankfully there was no jury involved.

    • deep64blue - Jul 7, 2011 at 12:59 PM

      I, for one, am glad jury’s still take seriously the issue of reasonable doubt in criminal matters. OJ and Casey probably did commit the crimes they were charged with but anyone closely following those trials knows the Prosecution didn’t have enough evidence.

      • nightman13 - Jul 7, 2011 at 1:26 PM

        With enough money you can find lawyers that can create a reasonable doubt that the sun rises in the East. Reasonable doubt is completely subjective. There could be enough proof to say the prosecution is 99% sure somebody did it, but a juror could feel that 1 percent doubt is reasonable. Another juror could feel that anything over 70% is reasonable.

        It puts far too much stock in jury selection and lawyers that can play mind games with the jury than actual facts. Just like everything else in this country, perception trumps reality.

      • FC - Jul 7, 2011 at 2:09 PM

        Maybe, on the other hand, the Prosecution could have tried getting a lesser murder charge, one that didn’t involve the death penalty. They probably would have gotten their conviction then. Juries think of the consequences.

      • trevorb06 - Jul 7, 2011 at 3:56 PM

        So what you’re saying is the one-armed man really COULD have done it? I mean there is a %1 chance. :-)

  2. skipp504 - Jul 7, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    As a Dodgers fan, this is the best news I’ve heard all year!

    • dodger88 - Jul 7, 2011 at 12:55 PM

      I second that.

    • b7p19 - Jul 7, 2011 at 1:16 PM

      I’m rooting for Frank on this one. Nothing REAL bad can happen to Padres as long as the Dodgers are run by a McCourt.

      • SmackSaw - Jul 7, 2011 at 1:30 PM

        The Dodgers will be back. The Padres will always be bad.

      • b7p19 - Jul 7, 2011 at 3:58 PM

        *sigh* Such a mean thing to say. You certainly seem a little testy. A) of course the Dodgers will come back, they’re in one of the biggest markets in the league. B) the Padres will only ALMOST always be bad. They have actually had 1 or 2 good runs in each of the last three decades, which is more than some teams can say. That was a very well thought out comment though. You’re very smart.

  3. yankeesgameday - Jul 7, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    Someone help me out with a theoretical problem I have… If the MLB bylaws state that they can take over a team that is mismanaged, and if the safety of the game itself is more important than personal ownership, then why have team owners at all?

    All of the teams are co-dependent and share revenue so isn’t what we really have is just a group of owners who are, in fact just stewards of franchises for a few decades, but that the teams themselves will pass out of their hands eventually? If they are still playing baseball in a hundred years how many more “owners” will the Dodgers have? And aren’t those owners just renting the rights of the team from MLB for their tenure? If MLB won’t allow a team to go out of business because of their legacies then, again, shouldn’t we all stop pretending that an individual owner is more than just a glorified superintendent for the time they control the team?

    Because if McCourt truly did “own” the Dodgers shouldn’t they cease to exist soon enough if he completely bankrupted them?

    • nightman13 - Jul 7, 2011 at 1:35 PM

      Capitalism. McCourt’s shady business bankrupted the team, other teams do shady things like accept revenue sharing $ and not spend it on the team. If an owner is doing something shady that lines their pockets, but the product on the field can still make money nobody cares.

      If an owner is doing shady (or unshady) things that financially destabalize a franchise, then MLB steps in.

      Don’t forget those glorified superintendents are making millions of dollars every year which is why there are owners in the first place. Very few owners own a team because they love baseball, they own the team because it makes money. If they do a bad enough job trying to make money and start to lose it, they become former owners.

    • SmackSaw - Jul 7, 2011 at 1:39 PM

      That’s exactly correct. The Billionaires club that is MLB do not like the term “superintendent” or “custodian” which is what they actually are. Owner sounds more impressive.

    • kopy - Jul 7, 2011 at 1:46 PM

      I don’t know as much about the process as I should. But, although franchises are now sold owner-to-owner, didn’t they originally have to be bought from MLB? When MLB created the Diamondbacks, I’m guessing an “owner” paid millions straight to MLB to “buy” the team. MLB prefers this much more than hiring a custodian to put in place and paying them to run their franchise.

    • Senor Cardgage - Jul 7, 2011 at 2:41 PM

      @yankeesgameday: You’ve hit the nail on the head. So-caled owners are stewards who rent the rights to the team for a while. This is no secret. Owning a team is often referred to as managing a “public trust.”

      • yankeesgameday - Jul 7, 2011 at 3:47 PM

        So if a baseball owner really is a steward who manages a public trust (i like the way you put it) why are they allowed to act as if they have the final say over their property when they clearly do not?

        Why perpetuate this illusion?

    • spudchukar - Jul 7, 2011 at 3:19 PM

      Whattaya’ mean if?

      • yankeesgameday - Jul 7, 2011 at 6:51 PM

        I guess they are called “franchises” for a reason. It’s like buying an IHOP. You can buy a pancake franchise, but if you run it into the ground the folks who give you the right to call it an IHOP will take it over. And then you’re left trying to open a Bob’s Big Boy off of I-95 somewhere outside of Vero Beach.

  4. jwbiii - Jul 7, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    I was really hoping to see the value of the various TV contracts.

  5. illyistic1 - Jul 7, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    i want my dodgers back! now dammit!

  6. deathmonkey41 - Jul 7, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    Craig- this is the only photo you should ever use for McCourt. It seems to capture his tenture as an owner so seemlessly…unless, of course, you should come across a pic of him kicking a little blind girl’s puppy or something.

  7. victormilan - Jul 7, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    What impresses me most in everything I see about McCourt is how, aside from his wizard ability to talk people into giving him money (well, and proprietorship over high-profile sports franchises), he seems to be a complete idiot.

    Because his dealings involving the Dodgers, if not everything, look more than a little … shady … his insistence on dragging every detail of the affair into official scrutiny, and onto the public record, seems little short of suicidal. It also makes me wonder – is his lawyer as big a nitwit and a crook as McCourt is, and encouraging his client to immolate himself, legally speaking, for his own publicity? Or is he (or she) too weak-willed to stand up against McCourt’s bizarre, self-destructive client-from-Hell demands?

  8. iranuke - Jul 7, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    I was under the impression that the bankruptcy court was there to protect the interests of the creditors. The way I understand it McCourt’s reqquest for documents had no bearing on the status of the creditrors, so the judge denied that motion, if McCourt wants to keep the Dodgers, he needs to come up with a plan to pay the creditors that the court will buy, without borrowing on the future (that would lower the value of the franchise, and hence the value to the creditors).

  9. North American Bowl - Jul 7, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    Judgment:

    Dodgers must move back to Brooklyn……..

  10. patsandsox - Jul 7, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    I have zero faith in our system of justice. If you have money you can get away with murder in a jury trial. If you dont have money you can get convicted of murder if you are innocent.

    I am so thankful in my divorce it was a judge that so threw my lying exwifes fake tears and was actualyh concerned about the children. He considered the testominy of the teachers, social workers and daycare providers and I got the custody of the kids even though the commonwealth of massachusets tired desperately to give it to their drug addicted mother. Excuse me for venting, now back to sports and sports courts ;)

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